Grief as Memory as it Belongs to the Daughter
The room held you, white sheet, thin,
almost too frayed to cover you.
Lips pinched upward, rubbing the hole
where a breathing tube sneaked its way
from your lungs to the sterile, hospital air.
My brother's curls, my exposed neck.
I only wanted to see where you had gone.
The length of your vital signs, a capsized ship.
Stacks of V-8 juice cans leaked nutritional value.
The flickering television on mute,
even the comatose deserve quiet.
Your favorite episode, your chest forced to breathe.
3-weeks prior: "I hate you and I wish you were dead".
We were full of anger.
Burrowed deep in your cells—waiting.
Then, your skin a color brighter than white,
you became the room.
Self-Portrait as Mythos
Demeter reminds me there is winter in my hair—
patchy nests of curls slumber
as roses tangle sickness to roots that plunge
into breasts, milk-dry & heavy. Fat cells
develop ghost stories of toxins & waist lines
tight & humid with porcupine.
Quills trace where organs should be—
my abdomen is decomposing. My womb
bore the tundra. Arctic foxes
born of cystic eggs, a screeching bark,
like a mouth too big for its teeth—
the world forgot my tongue
is full of the dead.
But tell me about this little girl,
who holds a long, stretched-out balloon
on tied shoelace ends.
Tell me about the room she sits in,
its curve of pillars, those branches,
pretend to hold the body of the living.
Tell me about the white of her skin
how it makes angels swell,
open their mouths, teeth full,
an endless god-space. Tell me about
the dirge that holds her heart,
it is smoky, almost uninhabitable,
it tries to breathe in white light.
Tell me about the way she smiles—
forever running in place to conjure skin,
moans, and pain-memories dormant in her cells.
But, tell me what you want to remember,
the way the incubator displayed the crease of your arm,
plastic slats divided the little girl from her mother.
Did you hear how I told you, if you’re abiding
of the balloon, the heart, the checkered room
you will enter the mouth of a devil, and
come out breathing like god.
But tell me you are dreamless,
and I will remind you of capillaries
that push life through your body
forever spilling out onto envelopes
your dead mother forgot to sign.